If you have sensitive teeth, you're not alone. Twelve percent of us have the problem, according to a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Dr. Philip Bauer, your Stamford and Greenwich, CT endodontist, explains what causes tooth sensitivity and shares a few tips that can help you deal with the problem.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
Sensitivity can occur due to:
- Tooth decay
- An infection or inflammation in the pulp at the center of a tooth
- A cracked or broken tooth
- Erosion of tooth enamel or the cementum that covers tooth roots due to vigorous brushing
- Gum disease
- Acid reflux
- Using abrasive toothpaste
- Eating or drinking acidic foods
Anything that breaks the protective seal provided by your enamel, whether it's tooth decay or brushing too hard, can cause symptoms. Your teeth consist of three layers: the pulp, the dentin and the enamel. When erosion or breaks affect the enamel, tiny tubes in the dentin are exposed. Sensations from hot, cold or sweet foods travel through these tubes to the pulp and are interrupted by your brain as pain. Pain can also occur when you open your mouth and cold air passes over your teeth and when you chew and brush your teeth.
How can I reduce sensitivity?
Using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help reduce pain. If it continues, it's a good idea to visit your dentist or endodontist to determine if tooth decay or an infection in your pulp is to blame. A filling or root canal therapy can ease your pain in these cases. Crowns and inlays can help relieve tooth sensitivity caused by cracked or fractured teeth.
If enamel erosion is the cause of sensitivity, your Stamford and Greenwich dentist can offer fluoride gel treatment to help strengthen your enamel. Avoiding acidic foods and using mouthwash that contains enamel-strengthening fluoride can also help.
Your endodontist can help you overcome tooth sensitivity. Call Dr. Bauer, your Stamford and Greenwich, CT endodontist, at (203) 327-1613 to schedule an appointment.